Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Mother's Angst

Benjamin didn't have the best year at summer camp last year. There weren't enough boys his age, and he really didn't settle in to the routine. He didn't have a bad time... he just wasn't ready to go back. So this year, we found a different camp, Douglas Ranch Camps, in Carmel Valley. It had a two week session, and had the advantage of being a mere 20 minute drive from our summer rental... just in case. It also offered a structure that appealed, though I wasn't that excited about two of the required activities - riflery and archery, and I knew Benjamin wouldn't be keen on the horses... but the pool looked nice in the pictures! And their website and international mix was truly impressive.

When we arrived, the organization was impressive, and the tennis courts top-notch. Then we got to the cabins - so rustic that they made Annika's camp look like a luxury hotel! Wooden shacks, holes in the walls, no windows, bathroom a walk away... but hey, it's camp.

Christopher and I dropped Benjamin off, made his bed and said goodbye. He wasn't happy... but he didn't want us around, either. When we left, he was pulling out fishing pictures to show his counselor, so I crossed my fingers and drove away. Then two agonizing weeks followed, waiting for word from camp. My motto became, "No news is good news" since we didn't hear a word.

The camp posts pictures from time to time during the sessions, and the first 51 pictures came out on the 7th day. And Benjamin was not in a single one of them. By the 9th day, the second lot was posted (and I was checking several times a day), and Benjamin was visible in 5, but not smiling in any.

By day 12, the third lot had one picture of him with a half smile. At least I knew he was still alive...

When we picked him up, he seemed really happy, and the reports were promising. He made some friends - Luis who wanted him to stay one session more, Alejandro, Luke, and more. The counselors commented on how nice he was, how polite he was (!) and how he had settled in (much better the second week than the first). On the down side, he did learn the word "demerit" and experienced them... by having his elbows on the table... and by getting into a fistfight (to help his friend Luke get something back from one of the bigger boys, according to B). All the kids were involved in an activity demonstration, and Benjamin was in the barn dancing - and seemed to have a great time doing it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BMR - Year 4!

Annika had a great year at camp - no big surprise. She settled in to her cabin, and tried new activities. She did advanced hiking (two periods), intermediate and advanced horseback riding, American football, and a few others. Advanced hiking got her up Blue Mountain twice, and she even got up at 3am for a sunrise hike. She loved her counselor and her cabin, and made a few new friends (and hung out with lots of old ones).

At parents' day, she competed in the rodeo - barrel racing and barrel weaving. I remarked that sometimes it is hard to get the horse to go where you want it to, with all the speed and excitement of the event. "The horse will go where I say." she stated, and it was true. She didn't miss a barrel - and won both events for her age group. She was determined to win one, but two was a real treat.

And she got her 4 year jacket this year - her 4th summer at camp. And she's only 10!

Of course, she came home with lots of questions - "Why am I the only one in my cabin..."
  • without a bra
  • who doesn't shave
  • who doesn't wear deodorant
I guess these things are coming...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It Started with the Peas...

I never planned on being one of "those moms" - the ones who plan meals around their childrens' preferences.

So there I was, sitting at this sushi restaurant for lunch - why lunch? Well, because I can't convince my 7-year-old to come with me to a sushi dinner, and soccer camp means he's eating french fries with ketchup and I'm free to choose my favorite meal... And there's this 4-year-old, tucking in to her California roll and praising the miso soup. "She eats what we eat" says her mom.

Where did I go wrong? Why do we have a revolt every time I make something new? Why do new meals bring tears? Was it the peas?

Yes, there was that dinner... the one where I put a handful of peas (like 12) on Christopher's plate... and he had a major meltdown, marching each pea to the trash can to dump it. Until they were all gone, there was no future to the dinner. Is this why he can't eat this morning's breakfast without dumping the sliced orange garnish on my plate? And what is it with ketchup? Isn't it a garnish? Not a side dish?

Anyway, Christopher and I found a great restaurant here in Carmel - and we've been there three times in four days... so I guess I'm catering to his preferences. It is a pizzeria where he gets to make his own pizza. They bring him a hat, dough, tomato sauce, cheese and ham - and he goes to town!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soccer Camp Week with Christopher

With Annika at Blue Mountain Ranch and Benjamin at Douglas Ranch Camp, Christopher and I have a week to ourselves. But to harness some of his energy, he is doing a soccer camp, 9-5 of soccer, more soccer... and a bit of swimming.

The first challenge for his camp was finding something he would consent to wear. He was extremely disappointed that the local sporting goods stores didn't carry his IFK Stocksund uniform, but we made do with a white t-shirt and blue shorts. I also bought a blue t-shirt... but it's a no go. So every night, we have to wash the white shirt and the white socks to be ready for the next day. I don't know who picked white for a sock color, but it sure wouldn't be my first choice...

And today, the camp took the kids to the beach. The camp is at the university campus next to Fort Ord, and Christopher was thrilled by the number of things he found on the way to the beach - not shells - shell casings. He came home with a large collection. He disappeared to his room and laid out his collection for display... on a pair of his underwear. It was there... it was the right size... why not?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Worst Pool in America

The boys and I decided to go swimming. Since the ocean is a bit frigid here, we chose the heated indoor public swimming pool, complete with water slide. It was about the same size as Mörby badet, our local pool in Sweden, just a lot warmer. As they boys began their swim, we noticed a lot more differences...

Benjamin and Christopher went straight for the water slide (about the same size as the one at Mörby). But Christopher was only two inches above the height limit, so the lifeguard made him prove his swimming ability before she would let him up the stairs. Benjamin pointed out that Christopher could just about touch bottom at the end of the slide, but to no avail. Christopher did show his stuff, but before he was able to try the slide, he got told off by another lifeguard for running. He came to me in tears because he swore he wasn't running and was so upset that he got told off.

But then he got told off again - this time for hanging on the rope in the kids' pool...

And then the he got told off again - for using kickboards (in the childrens' pool) incorrectly. Apparently kick boards are only for kicking. No kicking, no board. Even though Christopher was using one behind his head, one beneath his feet, to practice floating on his back. As the lifeguard tried to explain to him that kickboards are only for kicking, (What? What? Christopher kept saying, in typical Christopher fashion), I commented that there sure were a lot of rules. "We don't want anyone to get hurt," she said. Yep, all those kickboard accidents avoided...

And then the boys used the kickboards incorrectly again - each boy had two like airplane wings, legs kicking, but clearly not up to code. So two of the lifeguards took the kickboards away. No more allowed in the childrens' pool.

I counted - 9 active lifeguards here, max 2 at Mörby badet. Some nice, some with far too little to do. Needless to say, we won't be back.